Helge Tietz

I was born in Kaarst-Büttgen which is located in the Lower Rhine between the cities of Neuss and Mönchengladbach. My mother was from Sleswick-Holsten and her family is strongly associated with the Danish and Frisian minority in Sleswick-Holsten while my father originated from East Prussia. I almost equally spent my first 27 years in the Lower Rhine and in Sleswick-Holsten. My primary and secondary education was completed in Mönchengladbach in 1986, then I studied Town Planning at the University of Kassel, Germany, before acquiring a Master of Arts degree (MA) in European Property and Development Planning at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the United Kingdom in 1994.

My mother tongue is Low Saxon in its Holsten dialect which my family maintained also while living in the Lower Rhine. Standard German was my educational language in Germany and English at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Through my family background I am fluent in Danish and I also speak fluent Dutch, Swedish and Norwegian. In 1998 I moved to The Netherlands where I am currently working for a leading global IT company where I utilise all my languages.

Due to my family background and the various places I have been living and working, I became passionate about history and linguistics at an early age and the question “why under similar circumstances there is a very active ethnic minority representation in Sleswick consisting of Danes and Frisians while there is nothing comparable in the Lower Rhine area representing the Dutch speaking minority when Dutch was the official language there until 1815” eventually motivated me to further investigate which resulted in the essay "The Lower Rhine and South Sleswick: Two border regions and their relation to their neighbours and minorities".

But my general interest in minority and regional languages does not stop there and I became alarmed when my wife returned from a recent visit to Ladakh and told me that neither Ladakhi nor any other native Indian language is used as language of instruction at the schools there, the language of instruction is English. Investigating further we found out that English is becoming the dominant language of schools in all over India which, looking at the fate of the minority and regional languages in Germany, could eventually lead to the complete erosion of the native languages of India. Moreover, this practice appears to be common in Africa and other countries in Asia and Latin America concerning the native languages and the colonial languages. But there a enough examples in Europe as e.g. on the Faeroes which show that using a local or regional language as medium of instruction is not an obstruction for higher education in the long run at all, to the contrary when language training in other languages is also encouraged at an early stage. This guarantees the use and maintenance of the local and regional language while enabling the students to further their education away from there region if necessary. Thus, something can be done to stop this practice and therefore i have created this website.